It needs not be said that we are on uncharted territory here. Worldwide calls for shelter-in-place have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and those of us who take this virus seriously have settled indoors, practicing social distancing when we head out for only the most essential errands and exercise within close proximity of our homes. I am observing a resurgence in bread-making these days (it’s not just me, is it???), particularly with natural leaven, and it has been super inspiring to see people get back into the kitchen to bake and cook again. For those of us who usually find their joy in the kitchen (like me!), these strange, surreal, and scary times have certainly pushed me to get creative, working with what I have got in my pantry and fridge in order to minimize time spent in grocery stores.
My last blog post detailed my experience taking E.A.T.’s Sourdough Basics (hosted by the wonderful Julie Marr) and I have been baking up a storm since. I have even experienced the frustration and pain of having to discard TWO failed loaves from my first few attempts at a porridge loaf. I figure every baker needs to experience failure and waste, but lil’ ol’ me HATES failure AND waste, and I swear I felt painful tugs in my heart when I was forced to compost my soupy, overworked polenta dough, and that one super dense polenta loaf that—I now realize—was not given enough time to bench rest. The whole damn thing over-fermented too (because of the corn); I was not mindful in the making of this bread (I blame tax season), so I would forget about it and let it sit for too long in between folds. Sigh.
I throw away an incredible amount of sourdough waste. There are only so many crackers I can make. After a successful bake one day, I had googled ‘sourdough discard recipes’ and came across Maurizio Leo’s blog, The Perfect Loaf. What a treasure trove of tried and tested recipes for the sourdough nerd, not to mention his knowledge of different kinds of flour! I think I spent all week reading some of his recipes, most of which are far too advanced for someone typically baking-averse (aka: me), but what few sourdough discard recipes he has in his blog look easy enough for me. I wanted something beyond the usual crackers I make with discard, and I did not have the patience for pancakes nor the equipment for waffles… but banana bread? I fucking LOVE banana bread. Sourdough discard, CHECK! Bananas, check! Eggs, sugar, flour, etc, etc…??? Check, check, check, check, check!
The credit for the recipe obviously goes to Maurizio; I simply used his recipe as a guideline for what flavours I want/ingredients I have in my pantry. My pantry, admittedly, is filled with ingredients the average cook may not have in their cupboards. I fall in the way above-average category of home cooks, all because of my chef parents, my intense love of food from all over the world, and for having photographed so many fine dining restaurants and producers of high-quality products. So, for this sourdough discard banana bread, I have, in my baking section, an endless amount of bitters and spices, so I pulled out what spoke to me: tonka beans, cardamom pods, cardamom bitters (I use Scrappy’s; it’s my favourite bitters brand for baking), and cinnamon. In my fridge, I happened to have hemp seeds and hemp oil given to me by an old food photo client, Planet Hemp Super Food, so I decided hemp oil and hemp seeds are going in this bread. Yada, yada… I think you get the picture! Go pantry-shopping in your kitchen, and let those ingredients speak to you! Banana bread is really one of those foods that can do with all the unprecedented ingredient substitutions COVID-19 has entrusted upon us in this age of shelter-in-place. Have bananas, eggs, sugar, and flour? You’re good to go!
Blueberry, Hemp, and Cardamom Banana Bread (made with sourdough discard)
- 120 g white, unbleached AP flour
- 120 g whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 3 g baking soda
- 3 g sea salt
- 126 g butter, room temperature
- 80 g organic cane sugar
- 2 eggs, large
- 30 g maple syrup
- 125 g sourdough discard
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 28 g hemp oil
- 4 g vanilla extract
- 2 g cardamom bitters
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- nutmeg, grated
- 1/2 tonka bean, grated
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
For the crumble and topping:
- 1 banana, sliced length-wise
- 1 tbsp AP flour
- 1 tbsp rolled oats
- 25 g cold butter
- 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1) Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
2) Make the crumble: combine all the crumble ingredients plus a little bit of the zest from one lemon and mix thoroughly, making sure to squeeze the dry ingredients in with the cold butter. Set aside in the freezer until time to assemble the loaf.
3) Combine the two flours, baking soda, salt, and hemp seeds. Set aside.
4) Cream room-temperature butter and sugar until fluffy. Add one egg in at a time. Scrape down the sides of your mixer bowl.
5) Add in the sourdough discard, maple syrup, mashed bananas, and hemp oil. Stop and scrape. Then add the vanilla, cardamom bitters, the rest of the zest from the lemon and its juice, tonka, and nutmeg. Once fully incorporated, add in the flour mixture in thirds. Stop when the dry mixture has been fully incorporated into the wet banana batter.
6) Take the mixing bowl and fold in the frozen blueberries. Pour this batter into a loaf pan.
7) Slice a banana in half, lengthwise, and lay these halves on top of the thick batter. Take the crumble out of the freezer and sprinkle on top.
8) Bake for about 55 to 65 minutes. I checked it around the 50-minute mark; the batter was still a little jiggly so I left it in for another 5 minutes. I then put the broiler on high to brown the crumble topping—about 1 to 2 minutes. You want to watch this step; it could burn on you.
(Recipe adapted from Maurizio Leo’s The Perfect Loaf)
My sourdough discard gave this bread a nice tang at first bite, but I hardly noticed it afterwards. This loaf has a nice balance, flavour-wise, with the hemp, lemon, blueberry, and cardamom. This ain’t your regular banana bread; she fancy… like me, hahaha! :-)
Oh… and a just a quick note for those wanting to try your hand at sourdough baking, Maurizio’s blog is definitely a great resource—highly recommended—but Julie (E.A.T.) has been making a bunch of sourdough vids, walking you through the steps and process of setting up your kitchen to bake sourdough bread, making and maintaining a starter, etc. She LITERALLY started these videos a few days ago; get on her e-mail list so she can give you access to her VIMEO. Her vids are password protected; get on her list and she will give you access! Here’s her IG post with the deets. <3
Until my next post, everyone!